Concerning Johnny Boone…

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December 19, 2017, John Robert Boone, “Johnny Boone”, plead guilty to possession of more than 1000 marijuana plants, and to trafficking in Washington County Kentucky.  He was known as the “Godfather of Grass” and the leader of the “Cornbread Mafia” in Marion County Kentucky.

 U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III in Louisville sentenced John Robert “Johnny” Boone, 74, formerly of Marion County, Kentucky, to 57 months.

He had previously fled to Canada for a number of years after having a grow operation spotted by the KSP near Springfield Kentucky in 2008 where he remained a fugitive until his arrest in 2016 when he was deported from Canada back to Kentucky.

On April 11th I received the first email from Johnny Boone’s niece regarding the conditions that her Uncle was living in while being incarcerated at the Elkton Federal Prison, located in Lisbon, Ohio.

He was due to be transferred to a “Half-Way” house on April 15th, but COVID-19 came into the picture and his release was postponed.  He is 76 years old and in in a setting that could cause him to lose his life to this horrid virus. 

His family is pleading for his release, and have done everything they can to attain it.  They are asking for our help! He could very well lose his life in this prison because of this Virus, and nobody seems to be acting fast enough to take care of the emergent situation, in regards to prisoner’s.  He is not the only one!  There are many more all over the Country and each State’s Citizen’s should inform their Governor’s that this is not acceptable!

If you remove the non-violent offenders from the system there will be much more room for the ones who do need to be contained, and there will be better medical care afforded to them – hopefully.

We’re not criminals, we’re not,” he said. “We’re not the kind of people who go out and harm people.”

On April 8, the National Guard arrived at Elkton Federal Prison in Columbiana County to assist the medical staff when a large number of prisoners became ill with the virus.[67] On April 18, the National Guard and Highway Patrol arrived at the state prison in Marion county to assist with “mission critical functions” after infections of correctional workers and prisoners.[68] By April 19, over 1800 prisoners at Marion Correctional Institution, approximately 3/4ths of the population, plus 100 staff had tested positive.[69] Overall, the prison system had almost 2500 cases by April 19, representing almost a fifth of Ohio’s cases.[69]

How Johnny Boone ended up in an Ohio Correctional Facility, instead of a Kentucky Facility is not known.  But regardless of that fact, he should have been transferred back to Kentucky, at the very least, when this outbreak began.  Now it seems that he is stuck in there with no recourse as the Virus continues to reek havoc on the prison industrial complex overall.

Why has Governor Beshear let this happen?  Although I understand the way that we were hit with this “attack” of the Virus it would have to be hard to manage it, but these people who are incarcerated are supposed to be properly cared for by the “System”. 

Even the most chronic or hardened inmates have basic rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution. If you are facing incarceration, or if you have a family member or friend who is in prison or jail, you should know about inmates’ rights.

Considering Johnny Boone’s age and medical status, he should have been released early on.  There is absolutely no reason to keep this man incarcerated. 

Since Barr’s memorandum on April 3 directing Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal to consider measures to move minimum security inmates out of prison, few inmates have actually been released with the exception of those who were already planned for release.

With the following information in mind, I am urging everyone to send a memo to Gov. Beshear to request that he step in and make a decision to have Johnny Boone removed from Elkton Correctional Institute immediately and brought back home to Kentucky!

 On April 13, 2020, inmates at Elkton Federal Correctional Institution, brought an emergency court action seeking release from Elkton due to the spread of COVID-19 within the prison (Reference United States District Court Northern District of Ohio, Craig Wilson, et v Mark Williams, et al, Case: 4:20-cv-00794). The action sought the release of some inmates from prison to Home Confinement or by Furlough, particularly those who were old or had an underlying conditions consistent with the guidelines provided by the Center for Decision Control. Noted in the lawsuit was the “dorm-style” design of most minimum and low prisons where inmates live in close proximity to one another.

Please do not let either Johnny Boone or any other Inmates suffer and die needlessly in such condition!

This is the Government’s responsibility to keep these people safe from harm as they serve their time.  There is no reason to keep a non-violent offender in a prison system in these conditions!

Please take this into consideration and free Johnny Boone to his family!

Governor Andy Beshear

700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

Main Line: (502) 564-2611
Fax: (502) 564-2517

SEND EMAIL ONLINE THRU THIS LINK!

Joe Keith Bickett- Author: Cornbread Mafia Origins to Outlaws

RELATED:

https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.wordpress.com/?s=Johnny+Boone

https://governor.ky.gov/contact/contact-us

https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2020/04/23/federal-judge-in-ohio-says-fci-elkton-meets-cruel-and-unusual-punishment-standard/?fbclid=IwAR1n2U-S6F_F08Fa1jSVoq7xGm74aMZoILNp77s9tCAGVuRUg3LCcMvKZm8#1f906b2a20d4

https://civilrights.findlaw.com/other-constitutional-rights/rights-of-inmates.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_of_the_COVID-19_pandemic_on_prisons#Ohio

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12926917-the-cornbread-mafia

https://www.kentucky.com/news/local/crime/article159441349.html

https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/godfather-of-grass-sentenced-to-57-months-in-prison-1.3845091

https://www.lebanonenterprise.com/content/johnny-boone-pleads-guilty

https://cavecitykentucky.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/legendary-pot-grower-johnny-boone-leader-of-kentuckys-cornbread-mafia-back-in-u-s/

https://www.civilized.life/articles/the-godfather-of-grass-deported-from-canada-to-the-u-s/

http://www.corizonhealth.com/Corizon-News/connections/landmark-case-guarantees-prisoners-the-right-to-medical-care

1st federal inmate to die of coronavirus wrote heartbreaking letter to judge

Patrick Jones “spent the last 12 years contesting a sentence that ultimately killed him,” one of his former lawyers said.

thief-on-the-cross-large

April 5, 2020, 7:35 AM CDT

By Rich Schapiro

In the months before the coronavirus infiltrated the U.S., a 49-year-old inmate began drafting a letter inside the walls of a federal prison in Louisiana.

The man, Patrick Jones, had been locked up for nearly 13 years on a nonviolent drug charge. He hadn’t seen his youngest son, then 16, since the boy was a toddler.

“I feel that my conviction and sentence was also a punishment that my child has had to endure also and there are no words for how remorseful I am,” Jones wrote to U.S. District Judge Alan Albright in a letter dated Oct. 15, 2019. “Years of ‘I am sorry’ don’t seem to justify the absence of a father or the chance of having purpose in life by raising my child.”

Patrick Jones contracted coronavirus at a low-security prison in Oakdale, La.Courtesy of the Jones Family

Jones had been arrested in 2007 after cops found 19 grams of crack and 21 grams of powder cocaine inside the apartment he shared with his wife in Temple, Texas. His wife testified against him and was spared a prison sentence.

Jones wasn’t so fortunate. He was ultimately ordered to spend 27 years behind bars, in part because he lived within 1,000 feet of a junior college and already had a long rap sheet, mostly burglaries that he committed when he was a teenager living on the streets.

He was now writing the judge in the hope of receiving a sentence reduction through the newly-signed First Step Act, which offered relief to some inmates convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.

“My child having his own experience of raising his own child would validate my life experience and give meaning to my existence in this world, because 83582-180 has no meaning,” he wrote, referring to his federal inmate number.

“It is just a number to be forgotten in time. But Mr. Patrick Estell Jones is a very good person. Caring, hard working, free and clean of drugs and a lot smarter now, with a balanced outlook on life.”

The judge denied the request on Feb. 26, 2020. Twenty two days later, Patrick Estell Jones was dead, the first federal inmate to die of the coronavirus.

He had contracted COVID-19 at the low-security prison in Oakdale, La., a penitentiary now dealing with the deadliest outbreak of any of the 122 federal facilities.

“He spent the last 12 years contesting a sentence that ultimately killed him,” said Alison Looman, a New York-based attorney who had represented Jones in an earlier unsuccessful bid for clemency. “Ironically, it seems it is his death that might finally bring his case some attention.”

The U.S. has seen a movement in the past several years to reduce the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders, but criminal justice reform advocates say Jones’s case illustrates the limits of that effort.

“You see everything that is wrong with our sentencing system in this case,” said Kevin Ring, president of the criminal justice advocacy group FAMM.

Ring ticked off the series of factors that led to Jones’s lengthy prison term: a questionable accounting of the amount of drugs he was selling, his apartment’s proximity to a junior college, his decision to go to trial rather than take a plea and a criminal record that was largely made up of teenage offenses.

“He was no choir boy but his life had meaning,” Ring said. “I feel like his life was taken from him when he was sentenced and then he was killed in prison, and both of those things should trouble us.”

Jones’s death also focused attention on the beleaguered prison in southern Louisiana. A total of five Oakdale prisoners have died from COVID-19, officials said, and so many have come down with presumed cases that officials had temporarily stopped testing them for it.

At least 18 inmates and four staffers have tested positive, according to the Bureau of Prisons, but prison union leaders say the numbers are significantly higher.

“You’re just afraid all the time,” said an Oakdale corrections officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to speak to the media. “You’re afraid of catching it and bringing it home to your family. You’re afraid of spreading it in the community.”

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on jails and prisons across the country. Earlier this week, the federal Bureau of Prisons announced that it was locking down all inmates in their cells or quarters, with limited exceptions, for 14 days, but new cases keep popping up.

“There’s a feeling of terror not knowing when this is going to end,” the Oakdale staffer said.

Jones arrived at the prison in April 2017. It would be the last stop in a hardscrabble life that began in Temple, Texas.

His childhood was marked by tumult. Jones was initially raised by his great grandmother but he spent much of his pre-teen years at a group home for children and shuffling between relatives and friends, according to his clemency petition and a government court filing quoting an interview with him. He was on and off the streets during his teenage years, the clemency petition says.

His first run-in with the law came when he was 17, court filings say. Jones was arrested twice in the span of two months on theft and burglary charges. He was charged as an adult and ultimately spent two years in prison.

Jones was released in August 1991 but he didn’t stay out of trouble. He was arrested in May 1992 after he sold cocaine to an undercover officer, according to court records. Jones pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

He was released on parole in 2000 and eventually settled in an apartment in Temple, a few blocks from the local community college. Temple police officers showed up at his home in January 2007 looking for a woman on an outstanding warrant, court records say.

After discovering crack and powder cocaine inside the residence, they arrested Jones and his wife of two months, Sharon, court documents say.

The woman targeted by police wasn’t at the apartment but she was later taken into custody. The woman, Frances Whitlock, told police she sold crack cocaine for the Joneses, averaging about five to ten deliveries a day and sometimes made as many as 30, court documents say.

Sharon Jones agreed to testify against her husband. At his trial, she testified that they had been selling the drugs for about two months. She said they would sell a half ounce of crack every other day, earning about $1,000 every day, court documents say.

The jury found Patrick Jones guilty of possession with intent to distribute at least 5 grams of crack cocaine. His wife received a term of three years’ probation after the government recommended a reduced sentence citing her cooperation, court filings say.

At his sentencing, Jones was held accountable for 425 grams of crack – 22 times the amount that was in his apartment – based on the testimony from his wife that they sold a half ounce every other day from Thanksgiving 2006 until the day of their arrest in January 2007.

The government also used several other factors to enhance Jones’s sentencing guidelines: his apartment’s proximity to Temple College, his role as an “organizer” of criminal activity for enlisting Whitlock to deliver the drugs, his decision to fight the charges at trial and his offenses when he was 17 and 21.

In the case of his previous arrests, the government treated each charge as a separate sentence, which had the effect of further driving up his sentencing guidelines.

Jones was sentenced to the minimum term under the guidelines, but it was still 30 years. His sentence was later reduced to 27 years after the U.S. Sentencing Commission amended the crack guidelines to reduce the disparity between powder and crack cocaine.

Jones’s younger sister recalled being stunned by the severity of his sentence. “My brother made some bad decisions in life but that doesn’t make him a bad person,” Debra Canady told NBC News.

In the years after his sentencing, she remained in close touch with her brother who wrote frequently, she said, asking for updates on the youngest of his three sons, Kyrell.

Jones filed a bid for clemency in Oct. 2016 pointing to court rulings and changes in sentencing guidelines that would have directly impacted his case. Jones’s lawyers argued that if he were sentenced then he likely would have received a term at least 10 years less than the one he had received.

“With good time credit,” the petition said, “Mr. Jones would have already served his entire sentence.”

The petition noted that he had no history of violence or ties to gangs, had spent his childhood “with no permanent home,” and that he was a model inmate who worked his way up to head baker–”a profession he hopes to pursue upon his release.”

In January 2017, his lawyers received word from the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney: the petition was denied.

Looman recalled that when she delivered the news to Jones, he immediately expressed concern about her and wondered aloud if she might lose her job as a result.

“It is a telling example of what a kind and compassionate person Patrick is,” Looman later wrote to his judge.

The First Step Act signed by President Donald Trump in December 2018 offered Jones a glimmer of hope.

In his motion for a sentence reduction under the law, Jones’s lawyers said shaving off years of his prison term would “support the mandate from Congress and President Trump to reduce unnecessarily lengthy sentences for defendants like Mr. Jones.”

Prosecutors took a starkly different position, emphasizing his previous convictions and his “leadership role” in his “‘crack’ distribution enterprise.”

“Jones was not a small time crack dealer whose sentence far outweighed the scope of his criminal activity,” prosecutors said in court papers.

The judge, in a ruling filed in February, sided with the government.

“Jones is a career offender with multiple prior offenses and a history of recidivating each time he is placed on parole,” Albright said in his order.

“Though the bulk of Jones’s offenses were committed at age 17, Jones displayed his continuing criminal tendencies by committing offenses each time he was released from custody.”

Albright couldn’t be reached for comment.

Looman didn’t handle Jones’s effort to get relief through the First Step Act, but she kept in touch with him via the federal prison email system.

“Happy New Year to you and may this year bring great things your way,” Jones wrote to her this past New Year’s Eve.

On Feb. 27, the day after the judge’s ruling, Jones sent her a message that made it clear he had yet to get the news.

“I’ve just been awaiting to hear something good for a change as far as legal issues go,” Jones wrote. “…But I have not got anymore info to what may be coming forth It’s been a lot of movement around here lately I hope I’m in the making for that kind of release also.”

The following month, Jones and Looman exchanged messages that referenced the coronavirus. The deadly illness was sweeping across the U.S. and there were escalating concerns of outbreaks inside detention facilities.

“I am doing well as fare (sic) as coronavirus goes and staying safe and healthy,” Jones wrote on March 14, five days before he would complain to Oakdale staffers about a persistent cough, according to federal prison officials.

He went on to say in his message to Looman that he found out the judge ruled against him, which was news even to Looman, and he revealed why it took him so long to get word: his lawyer had left the public defender’s office two months earlier.

“I talked to the head person and he said it was on him that I was not contacted and that he was going to get his people on top of the appeal,” Jones wrote. “…Anyway, enough about my problems. Are you likening (sic) the work from home thing?”

Looman replied a few days later.

She never heard back.

Rich Schapiro

Rich Schapiro is a reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

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The East Mississippi Correctional Facility Is ‘Hell on Earth’

By Carl Takei, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality

March 5, 2018

E. Mississippi Correctional Fire

At the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, where Mississippi sends some of the most seriously mentally ill people in the state prison system, even the most troubled patients are routinely ignored and the worst cases of self-harm are treated with certain neglect. The conditions at EMCF have cost some prisoners their limbs, their eyesight, and even their lives.

In 2013, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and prisoner rights attorney Elizabeth Alexander filed a class-action complaint on behalf of all the prisoners held at EMCF. As the case heated up, the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP joined as co-counsel, providing major staffing and support. Despite years of attempts by Mississippi to derail the lawsuit before our clients even saw the inside of the courtroom, the case will finally proceed to trial Monday.

The lawsuit against EMCF describes horrific conditions at the facility: rampant violence, including by staff against prisoners; solitary confinement used to excess, with particular harm to prisoners with mental illnesses; and filthy cells and showers that lack functional toilets or lights. It also sheds light on a dysfunctional medical and mental healthcare delivery system that puts patients at risk of serious injury and has contributed to deaths in custody.

Nowhere was this institutionalized neglect more clear than in the life, and death, of T.H., a patient at EMCF with a history of severe mental illness and self-harm. On Jan. 31, 2016, T.H. stuck glass into his arm. Instead of sending him to the emergency room, a nurse merely cleaned the wound with soap and water. The following day, he broke a light bulb and inserted the shards into his arm. This time he required eight stitches.

Less than two weeks later, he cut himself with a blade hidden in his cell and then tried to hang himself. It was only later that month, after he reopened his arm wound with more glass, that mental health staff finally placed him on special psychiatric observation status.
Yet, because he wasn’t properly monitored, T.H.’s series of self-injury continued unabated until April 4, 2016. Early that afternoon, he stuck his arm, dripping in blood, through a slot in his cell door and asked to see the warden. A lieutenant saw T.H.’s bloodied arm, but, rather than call for emergency assistance, simply left the area. Two hours later, T.H. was observed unresponsive on the floor of his cell.

E. Mississippi Correctional Blood on the Door
In response, the prison warden opted to call for a K-9 team to enter the cell with dogs before letting medical professionals examine the patient. By then it was too late — T.H. was dead, having strangled himself with materials from inside his cell. He never once had a proper suicide risk assessment or any treatment to address his self-harm.

The lackadaisical and unconstitutional approach that EMCF staff takes toward prisoner healthcare cost T.H. his life and has caused well-documented suffering among countless other mentally ill prisoners. And it all happens in the context of a prison rife with violence, where security staff often react with excessive force to mental health crises and allow prison gangs to control access to necessities of life, including at times food.

The Constitution requires that if the state takes someone into custody, it must also take on the responsibility of providing treatment for their serious medical and mental health needs. This means, among other measures, hiring qualified medical staff to provide necessary care for people with mental health disorders, creating systems for access to care so sick patients can see a mental health or medical clinician, and making sure that medical care is provided without security staff impeding it.

The ACLU and our co-counsel are fighting to ensure that such care is available at EMCF, where the state of Mississippi has continued to lock some of the most vulnerable prisoners in dangerous and filthy conditions and deny them access to constitutionally required mental health and medical care.

I witnessed those conditions firsthand when I visited EMCF in January 2011 with fellow ACLU attorney Gabriel Eber and two medical and mental health experts. At that time, we were horrified to discover that Mississippi’s designated mental health prison was closer to a vision of hell on earth than a therapeutic treatment facility.

When I walked into one of the solitary confinement units, the entire place reeked of smoke from recent fires. I tried to speak to patients about their experiences, but I could barely hear them over the sounds of others moaning and screaming while they slammed their hands into metal cell doors.

Despite repeated warnings from nationally renowned experts brought in to assess conditions at the prisons, a meeting with top Mississippi Department of Corrections officials, and an offer by the ACLU to help MDOC pay to diagnose and fix the problems at EMCF, Mississippi officials permitted these conditions to continue unabated. Rather than take responsibility for fixing this prison, these officials merely switched contractors. In 2012, they swapped out private prison giant GEO Group, Inc. and replaced them with another private prison company, Management & Training Corp., which is perhaps best known for its horrific record of abusing and neglecting immigrant detainees. The state has also switched prison medical contractors multiple times, with little improvement from one to the next.

But the nightmare might soon be over. Over seven years since we first visited the cesspool that is EMCF, our clients will be allowed in court for the first time, asking that their constitutional rights finally be recognized. That recognition won’t undo the great harms they’ve suffered. But by fulfilling the Constitution’s promise of protection, we can stop new harms and horrors at EMCF, of which there have been too many for too long.

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40 YEARS FOR MARIJUANA IS NOT JUSTICE

GRANT CLEMENCY TO OUR SON EDWIN RUBIS – 40 YEARS FOR MARIJUANA IS NOT JUSTICE

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Jeremy Malone Huntsville, AL

Our son, Edwin Rubis, is serving a federal sentence of 40 years for a non-violent marijuana offense. [www.marijuanaliferproject.org/federal-prisoner-edwin-rubis-is-serving-life-for-marijuana/

At age 29, our son, while battling drug addiction, associated himself with drug couriers, and was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. After his arrest, his court-appointed attorney advised him, along with us, that he needed to provide information on others in the drug trade. Edwin could not provide such information. Therefore, he was quickly deemed “uncooperative”, and the judge gave him a harsh sentence – 40 years.

Edwin has been away from us for the last 19 years.

During the course of time, we have adamantly petitioned, and at times cried, for his early release, at every level of the court system. Sadly to say, we continue to struggle, missing him, with no positive resolution to obtain his freedom. Edwin’s children need him. We need him. Our son is not a terrorist, a rapist, a gang member, nor a violent individual to continually be kept in prison for decades for distributing marijuana. While imprisoned, Edwin has taken diligent steps to better himself. He has achieved numerous rehabilitation programs from the psychology and religious departments. He has graduated from college with a degree in Religious Education; and he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling and Therapist Certification. In addition, he serves as a mentor to others, under the supervision of the head chaplain. He is also working as a G.E.D. and E.S.L. tutor in the education department, at his present institution of confinement, helping others further their education. In addition, Edwin also finished a 2 year dental apprenticeship from The Department of Labor, and worked as a dental assistant for the last 7 years in the medical department.

We love our son, [uncle, father, and brother]. We wish for him to receive another chance at life. But our dream for him to be reunited with us, can not be accomplished without your full support.

Please help us obtain our son’s freedom by signing this petition urging President Donald Trump to grant our son clemency or a pardon.

Edwin is a changed man. He has been fully rehabilitated and deserves a second chance at life.

Sincerely, Maria Roque – and – Family.

PLEASE CONTINUE READING AND SIGN THE PETITION TO FREE THIS MAN NOW!

Why Are So Many Veterans on Death Row?

By Jeffrey Toobin

A new study shows that at least ten per cent of death-row inmates are military veterans.

The death penalty has always provided a window into the darkest corners of American life. Every pathology that infects the nation as a whole—racism, most notably—also affects our decisions about whom to execute. A new report from the Death Penalty Information Center adds a new twist to this venerable pattern.

The subject of the report, just in time for Veterans Day, is the impact of the death penalty on veterans. The author, Richard C. Dieter, the longtime executive director of the invaluable D.P.I.C., estimates that “at least 10% of the current death row—that is, over 300 inmates—are military veterans. Many others have already been executed.” In a nation where roughly seven per cent of the population have served in the military, this number alone indicates disproportionate representation. But in a nation where military service has traditionally been seen as a route into the middle class—and where being a vet has been seen as more of a benefit than a burden—the military numbers are especially disturbing.

Why are so many veterans on death row? Dieter asserts that many veterans “have experienced trauma that few others in society have ever encountered—trauma that may have played a role in their committing serious crimes.” Although this is hardly the case with every veteran, or even the overwhelming majority of them, Dieter goes on to relate several harrowing stories that follow this model. Because of such traumas, many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, for which they have too often received poor treatment, or none at all.

Veterans who kill are not, by and large, hit men or members of organized crime or gangs. They very often lash out at those around them. Dieter notes that a third of the homicide victims killed by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were family members or girlfriends. Another quarter were fellow service members. This record suggests that, if these veterans had received adequate mental-health care, at least some of them and their victims might have had a different fate.

But it’s possible to see, in the D.P.I.C. study, an echo of another recent high-profile study. Anne Case and Angus Deaton, of Princeton, found that the death rates for middle-aged white men have increased significantly in the past decade or so. This was largely due, according to the authors, to “increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis.” The Princeton study fits into a larger pattern in American life, which is the declining health and fortunes of poorly educated American whites.

That cohort has gravitated to military service for generations. And while, again, most veterans never commit any crime, much less crimes that carry the death penalty, the sour legacies of our most recent wars certainly play into the despair of many veterans. Earlier generations of veterans came home from war to ticker-tape parades, a generous G.I. Bill, and a growing economy that offered them a chance at upward mobility. Younger veterans returned to P.T.S.D., a relatively stagnant economy, especially in rural and semi-rural areas, and an epidemic of drug abuse. And they came home to a society where widening income inequality suggested the futility of their engagement with the contemporary world.

In an interview with Vox, Deaton said that the death rate for members of this cohort had increased, in part, because they had “lost the narrative of their lives.” This elegant, almost poetic phrase can be read to include the lost promise of military service—the vanished understanding that veterans earned more than a paycheck, that they also gained a step up in status, both economic and social. The reality has been that many veterans returned to lives that were materially and spiritually worse than the ones they left, and far worse than the ones they expected.

According to the Princeton study, a shocking number of poorly educated whites turned their rage inward, in the form of drug abuse and suicide. But a small handful inflicted their rage on others, and an even smaller number wound up on death row. They are different groups of people, and their individual stories are even more variegated, but it’s possible to see across them the symptoms of a broader anguish.

CONTINUE READING…

Largest Ever One Time Early Release Of Federal Prisoners Coming This Month

By TNM News on October 8, 2015 Latest Headlines, Legal, News Feed

It appears that several federal prisons will be allowing thousands of prisoners, who have committed non-violet crimes, free due to efforts to reduce long prison sentences given to drug offenders Another issue the Obama Administration and U.S. Sentencing Commission are trying to solve is jail overcrowding. This will be one of the largest one-time early releases from federal prisons ever recorded in the U.S.

ABC 7 News reports:

The Department of Justice today confirmed that the doors of federal prisons all over the country will swing open for an estimated 6,000 drug offenders at the end of this month.

It is the largest-ever one-time early release of federal prisoners, and it comes as a result of U.S. Sentencing Commission and Obama Administration efforts to reduce long prison sentences given to drug offenders. It is also part of an effort to cut down jail overcrowding.

It is not just non-violent offenders who are getting their freedom, a Justice Department spokesman said — some of those being released have been convicted of violent crime, along with drug crimes.

But the vast majority are non-violent offenders, officials said. And the sentence reductions were not for the violent portion of offenders’ sentences.

However, all of the prisoners who petitioned for release had to have a public safety determination made by a judge.

The judge could elect to release the prisoner, or to keep him or her locked-up.

About one-third of the prisoners to be released between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2 are non-citizens, the Department of Justice said, and they will be turned over to Immigration and Customs officials for deportation.

Most of the former prisoners who are released into the community will still be supervised through a halfway house or home confinement, according to Justice Department officials.

“The Department of Justice strongly supports sentencing reform for low-level, non-violent drug offenders,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in a statement today. “The Sentencing Commission’s actions – which create modest reductions for drug offenders – is a step toward these necessary reforms.”

Yates also emphasized that even with these sentence reductions, the drug offenders in question have served substantial sentences. On average, according to DOJ, each inmate has already served 8.5 years of a 10 year sentence.

A similar program was undertaken in 2007 when inmates were released for sentences for crack were deemed too harsh.

CONTINUE READING…

Prison operator sued in death of former marijuana provider

By Sanjay Talwani – MTN News

Connect

Lawsuit (MTN News photo)

  

Prison photo (MTN News photo)

  

HELENA –

The widow of a former medical marijuana provider who died while serving time is suing the operator of Montana’s only private prison.

A federal lawsuit says Corrections Corporations of America failed to give the inmate (Flor) needed medical care while at its Crossroads Correctional Center outside Shelby.

Flor died in August 2012 in a Las Vegas hospital on the way to a federal prison medical facility.

Before that, according to the lawsuit, he endured extreme pain while he awaited an assignment to a federal facility.

His lawyer, Brad Arndorfer, had tried to have him released from prison pending his appeal because of health reasons. And in prison, the lawsuit says, Flor and his family made multiple requests for medical care but did not receive any.

Flor was unable to adequately care for himself or feed himself, and his care was left to other inmates, the lawsuit claims.

Flor was 68 and a co-founder of Montana Cannabis, one of the state’s largest medical marijuana providers. It was shut down in 2011 by federal authorities along with similar operations around the state.

An inquiry to the attorney representing CCA in the case was returned with an email from a CCA spokesman.

Steven Owen, CCA’s managing director of communications, said in the email that CCA could not comment in a particular inmate’s case. But he said staff are firmly committed to the inmates’ health and safety.

He also said CCA meets or exceeds all of the standards of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Montana Department of Corrections, and the American Correctional Association.

"The facility and staff are subject to strong oversight by on-site monitors who regularly inspect and audit our processes for delivering care," he said in the email.

The suit was first filed on May 6 in state District Court in Yellowstone County. It has moved to U.S. District Court in Billings and was re-filed there Monday. CCA, based in Tennessee, has not yet filed a response.

Arndorfer filed the suit on behalf of Flor’s widow, Sherry Flor, and did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

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La. prisoner released after 43 years in solitary confinement. How can he cope?

A federal judge ordered the unconditional release of Albert Woodfox on Monday, finding ‘no valid conviction holding him in prison, let alone solitary confinement.’

By Cristina Maza, Staff writer June 9, 2015

 

On Monday, a federal judge in Louisiana ordered the release of an inmate who has been in solitary confinement for more than 40 years. The situation raises questions about how prisoners cope and transition back into society after long incarceration in such extreme conditions.

Albert Woodfox was charged with the 1972 murder of a prison guard and convicted twice, but both convictions have since been overturned. State prosecutors said they hoped to try Mr. Woodfox a third time, but the judge opted to bar that option, citing a lack of confidence in the state’s ability to provide a fair trial.

Woodfox, who was originally convicted of armed robbery, organized a chapter of the Black Panthers, a black rights movement, in prison. He and two other African-American inmates, Robert King and Herman Wallace, mobilized other black prisoners in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La., against the harsh conditions inside the jail. After a prison riot resulted in the death of a guard and an inmate, all three men were thrown in solitary confinement, where they were kept for decades. The men, known as the Angola Three, maintained their innocence and said they were kept in solitary confinement as retribution for their political organizing.

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Mr. Wallace was released from prison in 2013, but died of illness just a few days later.

Mr. King, who was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary, has been living outside of prison and actively campaigning for prisoners’ rights, making frequent media appearances. His case provides an important insight into what the future may look like for Woodfox, and what difficulties prisoners face while reintegrating into society after years behind bars.

“I get confused as to where I am, where I should be,” King told CNN in 2014, describing his difficulty mastering geographical orientation after his release from jail.

In other interviews, King said that time in solitary confinement makes people “old and infirm before their time.”

Experts agree that solitary confinement can severely impact a prisoner’s mental health.

"There are instances of people who literally go insane in solitary confinement – I’ve seen it happen," Craig Haney, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studied the impact of solitary confinement, told the BBC. "That’s an extreme case of somebody’s identity becoming so badly damaged and essentially destroyed that it is impossible for them to reconstruct it."

Psychologists have identified tactics that prisoners can use to survive the situation.

Cleaning your living quarters, talking or singing to yourself, and finding activities that maintain a sense of physical and psychological identity, and a sense of order and structure, are among the activities psychologists recommend.

Despite the difficulties he faces readjusting to outside life, King is an example of a person who maintained his mental health throughout almost three decades of solitary confinement.

In an interview with the BBC, King said that he had remained strong, but that it was “scary” to see others crumble from a lack of human contact. Reading books by Richard Wright, Frederick Douglass, and George Jackson, kept his mind active, he later told Amnesty International.

Woodfox, meanwhile, has been confined for 23 hours a day since 1972 and has been permitted just one hour a day outside of his cell to “walk along the tier on which his cell is located,” according to court documents from a case that challenged his prison conditions. Amnesty International has monitored the case of the Angola Three for years and characterized the use of solitary confinement in this case as a violation of human rights.

On Monday, United States District Judge James Brady ordered the unconditional release of Woodfox from state custody. "There is no valid conviction holding him in prison, let alone solitary confinement,” Judge Brady wrote. "There was an abundance of physical evidence available at the crime scene in 1972, but not one piece of physical evidence incriminated Mr. Woodfox."

Speaking in the 2010 documentary "In the Land of the Free," which examines the case of the Angola Three, Teenie Verret, the widow of the murdered prison guard, also expressed a belief in the men’s innocence.

"If they did not do this, and I believe that they didn’t, they have been living a nightmare,” Ms. Verret said.

Human rights activists say they are anxiously awaiting Woodfox’s release. Tory Pegram of the International Coalition to Free the Angola Three told the BBC that she spoke with Woodfox on Monday night and that he was "excited and nervous."

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